• By The Financial District


Vice President Mike Pence and fellow Republicans pressed a distorted case Wednesday (Thursday, August 27, 2020 in Manila) that President Donald Trump took over a moribund economy from Barack Obama and supercharged it. That’s not what happened, wrote Josh Boak, Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward for the Associated Press (AP.)

Pence bragged in his speech that “four years ago we inherited ... an economy struggling to break out of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. ... In our first three years we built the greatest economy in the world.” AP said “that’s a highly misleading portrait. Obama started the longest expansion in U.S. history and prevailed over most of it. The expansion was indeed slow, but growth under Trump has basically been the same: 2.3% in the final four years of Obama compared with 2.5% in the first three years of Trump. Trump took office with unemployment at a low 4.7%, steady job growth and a falling federal budget deficit.”

The fact is, AP admonished Pence, “Trump’s record on economic growth is about to get crushed by the current recession brought on by the pandemic, a public-health crisis that the White House said early on would not hurt the economy.”

AP also disproved the claim of Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, who claimed that “in just four years, President Trump has lifted people of all races and backgrounds out of poverty. He shrunk government and put money back into the pockets of hardworking, ordinary Americans.” The news agency retorted: “Only this is true: Americans did get money back in the form of tax cuts and in direct government payments after the economy plunged into a recession this year from the coronavirus... Everything else is wrong. The government is still huge, not shrinking as she said. Federal spending was 20.6% of the gross domestic product in 2016, Obama’s last year, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That percentage has gone up and down but was 20.8% in 2019. It probably surged this year due to the fastest and sharpest downturn in modern US history. The pandemic-induced recession has also flung millions of Americans back into poverty — as expanded government aid has expired. The unemployment rate is 10.2%, versus 4.7% when Trump took office. There are 14.8 million Americans collecting jobless aid, while just 2 million were doing so when Trump became president.”